Tributes from all over the world are pouring in as people have dug deep to support the victims and their families following the horrific jumping castle tragedy in Tasmania that has killed five children and critically injured several more.
Zoe Smith, who describes herself as “a local girl who grew up in Devonport”, said she started a GoFundMe fundraising page despite not knowing any of the children killed or injured.
An overwhelming number of donations have been lodged so far, with more than $250,000 raised in less than 24 hours – and the total is continuing to rise quickly in the wake of such a tragic incident.
Police say a “significant local wind event” contributed to the jumping castle flying more than 10 metres into the air as students from Hillcrest Primary School gathered to celebrate the end of the school year.
It’s unknown at this stage how many children were on the jumping castle at the time, or how it was anchored down.
Messages of condolence are flowing in for two of the students who have been identified among the dead, with separate GoFundMe pages set up for them.
They were named as Grade Six students Zane and Addison.
Addison’s aunt wrote that she “was always such a sweet kind, old soul.”
“My niece was tragically taken in the accident at Hillcrest Primary. I’m hoping to raise some money for my brother and sister in-law to help pay for funeral costs and to pay off some bills for them while they try and navigate life without their precious daughter,” she wrote. “They have another daughter and son to take care of and I’m hoping to alleviate some of the stress of bills.”
Ms Smith said set up her fundraiser because she was “moved by the tragedy” like many other Australians and wanted to do something “to support the families throughout Christmas”.
“All funds will go to the families of the children who were tragically killed and injured to not only support them but provide them with much needed gifts in this time of such sadness,” she said. “All the funds will be donated to the school and the Parents and Friends committee to be distributed to the families affected!”
“Any donation is much appreciated and hopefully we as the incredible community of Devonport can rally to support such deserving and hurting people,” Ms Smith said.
Support has been put in place for the school community, including school counsellors and chaplains for use over the holiday period.
In an interview on The Project, Mayor Annette Rockcliff said she had met the students only last week after visiting the primary school.
“I did meet all of those children last week, I was in their classroom for an hour or so, so it’s tough to think about that”, she said, looking visibly upset.
Police officers who responded to the scene were visible distressed by what they saw.
“These children were meant to be celebrating their last day of primary school, instead we’re all mourning their loss,” Tasmania Police Commissioner Darren Hine said. “Emergency services were called to the scene around 10 am this morning after a wind gust had reportedly caused the jumping castle and inflatable zorb balls to lift into the air.”
“Our thoughts are also with those emergency services personnel who attended to try and save these people’s lives,” he said.
Investigations are underway into the incident, with involvement from WorkSafe Tasmania.
Mr Hine said that investigation could take “quite some time”.
You can donate to the GoFundMe here.
This article first appeared on Over60.